As if Glastonbury being cancelled wasn’t sign enough that the times that were a-changing have undergone a seismic shift, the Chelsea Flower Show has been postponed to September for the first time in its 108-year history.
The change of date follows on from a full cancellation of the event last year, another first for the much-loved horticultural fixture, which saw the event move online as the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show. Another virtual event will run this year from May 18-23, when the physical event was due to have taken place.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), felt it would be impossible for the show to safely go ahead in May given the ongoing pandemic, but is forging ahead with plans for an autumn event with fewer visitors over six days rather than larger crowds over the show’s usual five.
The RHS will contact ticket holders in due course to inform them of their options. Exhibitors who were due to exhibit in May will be given the opportunity to show during the autumn date of September 21-26.
This will mean a very different sort of flower show, which is usually an explosion of radiant spring and summer blooms, but the RHS is hoping to celebrate the best of autumn horticulture in this unusual break with tradition.
Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “In these challenging times we have always followed government advice and made difficult, responsible decisions with the health and safety of people our key concern.
“Whilst we are sad to have had to delay RHS Chelsea and are sorry for the disruption this will cause, we are excited that we are still planning to bring the world’s best-loved gardening event to the nation at a time when more people are gardening more than ever.
We know that the autumn dates may not be suitable for everyone, but with our fantastic industry partners we will do everything we can to support them and create a show that will be a moment in history.
“It will be exciting to see different horticulture and showcase the key autumn gardening season at the world’s most famous flower show. We believe many designers and nurseries will look forward to working with different plants that would not be available or at their best in May.”
“Never have so many people gardened in recent times, nor needed the benefits of gardening more, so we will do our utmost to deliver a beautiful, uplifting and different RHS Chelsea safely in September 2021.”
It is hoped shows at Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park, which take place later in the year, will still go ahead as normal, but the RHS said it would continue to follow government advice and provide updates if there are changes.